April 21, 2017: Officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said this week, the week of April 16-22, 2017, that they would start the process of shrinking its 15,000-employee workforce through buyouts, in the wake of President Trump’s executive order last month aimed at streamlining agencies throughout the federal government. In a letter to Regional Administrators and other agency officials, EPA Acting Deputy Administrator Mike Flynn said White House officials had asked federal agencies to begin taking “immediate actions” aimed at reducing their workforce. “In light of this guidance, we will begin the steps necessary to initiate an early out/buy out…program,” Flynn said, adding that the goal is to complete the program by the end of the fiscal year. He also noted that while a government-wide hiring freeze had been lifted, hiring at the EPA would remain at a standstill. “Given our resource situation, we will continue a freeze on external hiring,” Flynn said. “Very limited exceptions to this external hiring freeze may be permitted on a case-by-case basis.” The memo, dated Monday, April 17, 2017, contains little additional detail about the EPA’s plans to shrink its number of employees, and it is probably the first of many similar plans that will be submitted by various agencies. But the EPA, in particular, has been a central target of the Trump administration. Trump has promised in the past to reduce the agency to “tidbits.” His proposed budget would slash the agency’s funding by 31 percent, cut about 3,200 workers, obliterate funding for climate change research and Superfund cleanups, and scrap more than fifty programs. Among them: efforts aimed at improving energy efficiency, funding infrastructure projects in Native American communities and cleaning up the Great Lakes. The EPA is an independent federal government agency.